It's election day, and Atlanta's citizens are heading to the polls to decide who its next mayor is going to be!
Except... this election day, less people seem to be invested. Early voting numbers have been lower thus far this mayor's race -- 78,450 people voted the last time the seat was up for grabs in November 2009. This election? Only about 16 percent of those folks had cast an early ballot as of the Wednesday before Election Day.
And while the folks living "Outside the Perimeter" (aka OTP) can't actually cast a ballot, it matters who becomes the next mayor of Atlanta. Don't think so? Here's why it does, and why you should care.
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#ATLMayor | Election results
1. The commute
According to the most recent 2010 Census data, the 18-county Atlanta metro area added more than 960,000 people between 2000 and 2010. The Atlanta Regional Commission also estimates that roughly 350,000 people who live outside the city commute into town each day. Moving that many people has become the great challenge for Atlanta, as congestion in the city has become some of the worst in the world.
There has been some movement in public transit investment; Under Mayor Kasim Reed's tenure, he helped get the Atlanta Streetcar up-and-sort-of-running. However, the transportation line has been criticized for going nowhere and having safety issues.
Also, while it became crucial in the weeks after the I-85 bridge collapse, MARTA hasn't really expanded. While that's largely to do with state and MARTA officials, most of the rail service falls within City of Atlanta limits.
And who could forget "Snow-Jam"? The day when two inches of snow brought the city to its knees. Drivers trying to hit the road early were stuck in their cars in the middle of roads and school gyms were turned into temporary sleep halls for stranded students.
Regional and city leaders didn't communicate to shut down schools and businesses, and Atlanta became a national joke.
It's no secret Atlanta has exploded on the national scene as one of the top places to visit and work. Part of the appeal includes the number of attractions in the city.
In the last few years, Atlanta has seen the completion of the Beltline, Ponce City Market and the return of Music Midtown. There's also a festival happening just about every weekend.
Add to that Atlanta's sports scene -- the Football Hall of Fame, Atlanta United FC's move to the city, the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Falcons, a renovated Philips Arena for the Hawks (although the city lost the Braves to neighboring Cobb County) -- it's safe to say entertainment is a huge economic driver to the region, which brings us to...
According to Forbes, Atlanta is one of the top three cities poised to be a "tech Mecca of tomorrow." In the past few months, several businesses -- including Accenture, UPS, and Anthem -- have announced they're bringing jobs to Atlanta.
Atlanta is also in the running to be picked as Amazon's second headquarters. That alone could bring 50,000 jobs to the city. Hundreds of deals like this are made every year, Atlanta's mayor often right in the middle of them.
One last issue is safety when those OTP make their way ITP.
Crime rates have generally gone down over the last decade, however, Atlanta's murder rate rose 32 percent between 2012 and 2016, making the per-capita rate higher than Chicago's.
And when it comes to protests, Mayor Reed and the city's police force got big kudos for its handling of protests; where other cities had violence, Atlanta's were remarkably calm.